By Brecken Branstrator
brecken.branstrator@nationaljeweler.com
The top lot at Christie’s recent online auction of 101 Cartier clocks was this Belle Époque “Planet Semi-Mystery Day and Night” clock.
Geneva—Though several of the rare Cartier clocks on the block went for more than predicted at a recent Christie’s auction, the total for the collection fell short of its pre-sale estimates.

From July 7-21, the auction house offered 101 Cartier clocks from a private collection amassed over three decades.

It represented more than 80 years of clockmaking at the storied maison, featuring examples from the late 19th century through the 1980s with enamel, gemstones and carved hardstones.

Originally scheduled to be a part of the Magnificent Jewels auction July 1 in Geneva, Christie’s ended up making it a standalone online auction, “A Lifetime of Collecting – 101 Cartier Clocks.”

The auction included some of the most sought-after Cartier timepieces of their period, including an underwater periscope-inspired prism clock, semi-mystery clocks called “planet” or “comets,” and two rare chronoscope clocks created by master horologist Maurice Coüet.

Coüet’s relationship with Cartier helped establish the jewelry house as a leading manufacturer of jeweled objects.

The auction’s total of CHF 2.1 million (about $2.3 million) fell about $2 million short of its pre-sale estimate of CHF 3.9 million to CHF 5.7 million (about $4 million to $5.9 million), with less than half of the lots selling.

The top lot of the sale was the 1913 Cartier Belle Époque “Planet Semi-Mystery Day and Night” clock seen at the top of the article.


Made with agate, white and light-blue enamel, rose-cut diamonds and gold, the clock is inscribed with “I do not count the hours if they are not brilliant” in Latin.

It was estimated to sell for between CHF 140,000 and CHF 200,000 (about $150,000 and $210,000) but ended up garnering CHF 300,000 (about $321,000).

20200722 Christies Lot 2

Following at No. 2 was the 1926 Art Deco Cartier desk clock seen above, featuring a circular burgauté lacquer dial inset with cabochon moonstones, mother-of-pearl, enamel, cabochon turquoises and rose-cut diamonds.

It fell within its pre-sale estimate range when it sold for CHF 162,500 (about $174,000).

Tied at No. 3 were two more clocks from the Art Deco period.

One has blue guilloché and enamel, rose-cut diamonds, rock crystal, silver and gold, the other a lapis lazuli dial, carved jade center panel, kingfisher feather surround with enamel detailing, carved emerald trees details and turquoise details (pictured below).

Both sold for CHF 150,000 (about $161,000).

20200722 Christies Lot 3

At No. 5 was an early 20th century mystery clock made with light pink opalescent guilloché and white enamel, rose-cut diamonds and an onyx case, which garnered CHF 137,500 (about $147,000).

The final clock to achieve six digits in the online auction was an early 20th century “Comet” semi-mystery clock with light orangey-pink guilloche and white enamel, rock crystal and rose-cut diamonds.

It went for CHF 125,000 (about $134,000).

To see more of the Cartier clocks, visit Christies’s website.


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